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Volcano near Mexico City spews ash, smoke

(Xinhua)

15:17, November 21, 2011

MEXICO CITY, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- A volcano near here spewed ash and smoke into the air Sunday, and local civil protection authorities warned people not to go close as burning ash could fall for hours.

Ash and smoke from Popocatepetl, Mexico's largest active volcano 60 km southeast of Mexico City, were clearly visible from the capital, which has some 20 million inhabitants. The ash and smoke could also be seen from nearby cities in the central states of Puebla, Morelos and Mexico State.

Access to the volcano has been restricted to a radius of 12 km around the crater following a powerful explosion, which was reported at 12:05 p.m. local time (1805 GMT). The explosion caused the earth to shake and sent smoke and ash over 7 km high into the air.

The explosion alarmed the people living nearby, but officials said that no damage or injuries had been reported so far.

The Popocatepetl volcano is 5,452 meters high and located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.

The volcano erupted and ejected lava in December 2000, during which some 30,000 people were evacuated. Its activity started increasing recently and is being monitored.

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